Canada's PM Justin Trudeau mocked over 'sorrow' after Fidel Castro's death

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backpedalled on his praise for Fidel Castro.
CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backpedalled on his praise for Fidel Castro.

In the United States, Fidel Castro's death was all but cheered. President-elect Donald Trump called him "a brutal dictator", while President Barack Obama was more diplomatic.

But a little farther north, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went rogue - calling Castro a "remarkable leader" and saying he was mourning "a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century."

"While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognised his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for 'el Comandante'," Trudeau said.

Cuban President Fidel Castro died on Friday (NZ time).
CLAUDIA DAUT/REUTERS

Cuban President Fidel Castro died on Friday (NZ time).

"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba."

READ MORE:
Fidel Castro has died, aged 90
World reacts to Castro's death
Donald Trump dubs Fidel Castro a 'brutal dictator'

Trudeau's positive statements about Castro met with an instant backlash in Canada and elsewhere.

Maxime Bernier, a Canadian politician, suggested Trudeau didn't know the difference between "longest serving president" and "dictator."

Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American US senator who ran for president, asked sarcastically on Twitter if Trudeau's statement was real or a parody. If real, Rubio called it "shameful & embarrassing."

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Trudeau's statement sparked the hashtag #trudeaueulogies, as people chimed in with positive things about historically evil people, including Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden:

"Mr. Stalin's greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in the Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms."

"Today we remember Adolf Hitler, whose vision for the autobahn changed the face of vehicular transportation forever."

"Let us remember Osama Bin Laden. He was a thief and a terrorist, but he had a marvelous singing voice."

On Sunday, Trudeau said the statement was simply meant "to recognise the passing of a former head of state" of a country that Canada had longstanding ties with, and not to gloss over unflattering history.

"The fact is Fidel Castro had a deep and lasting impact on the Cuban people," Trudeau told reporters.

"He certainly was a polarising figure and there certainly were significant concerns around human rights, that's something I'm open about and that I've highlighted."

Asked whether he thought Castro was a dictator, Trudeau said: "Yes."

Trudeau, whose father - a former prime minister - was the first Nato leader to visit Cuba back in 1976, said he had raised the issue of human rights during an official visit to Cuba earlier this month.

Despite the United States' history with Cuba, Canada has maintained its relationship with the largest island in the Caribbean since the 18th century.

Mexico and Canada were the only other countries in the Western Hemisphere to continue diplomatic relations with Cuba in the years after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

About a million Canadians vacation in Cuba every year - which accounts for about 40 percent of the tourist population.

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 - The Washington Post

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